Feds: Pilot moving marijuana busted in Iowa stop

Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2013, 1:31 pm
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A pilot was caught transporting a large shipment of high-grade marijuana from California to the east coast when his plane stopped at a rural Iowa airport for maintenance, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday.

Angelo P. Efthimiatos was the pilot of a small Piper aircraft that landed Tuesday morning at the municipal airport in Washington, Iowa, where he hoped to refuel and have workers inspect a mechanical problem, according to the complaint.

The Department of Homeland Security Air and Marine Operations Center, which is based in California and tasked with combating drug smuggling, was monitoring the flight, and asked local police to inspect his pilot's license and other aircraft documents.

Efthimiatos claimed he would retrieve the documents from the plane, but said he could not find them after he looked in a briefcase, the complaint says. A trained police dog was brought in to sniff the air around the plane, and gave an alert indicating the presence of controlled substances, it says.

Investigators later found 55 pounds of high-grade marijuana during a search of the plane, which may have a street value of $220,000 or more, the complaint says.

After Homeland Security agents arrived at the airport, Efthimiatos admitted to them during an interview that he was transporting drugs from California to the eastern part of the country for the fourth of fifth time, the complaint says. Efthimiatos explained that others had loaded the marijuana onto the plane, and he was planning to use a car after he landed to transport the drugs to another location on the east coast, where it would be retrieved by someone else, the complaint says.

Efthimiatos made an initial court appearance at the federal courthouse Davenport on Wednesday, and was ordered jailed pending a hearing Monday. He is charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Efthimiatos did not enter a plea at the appearance, and a public defender appointed to represent him didn't immediately return a phone message. His age and address were not immediately available.


Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

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1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.

(More History)